Another Look at Reality

In my last post I floated the idea that even if we were able to somehow travel back in time and communicate freely with people from a bygone age, there would only – at best – be certain aspects of shared experience.  This, I argued, is because ‘truth’ or what we term ‘reality’ is a subjective interplay between a person’s mind, brain and the objects and events that form to produce each person’s perceived world.

‘Aha,’ you may say, “If that were the case, how would you and I share a common view of a scene before us?  Even a short discussion would prove that our vision of what lay around us was identical.  We could even take photographs to demonstrate it!’

Well certainly we citizens of the 21st century share a common perception of the objects and events around us.  Perceptive reality has strong links to social cohesion and the ‘training’ we were given in infancy. 

Fantasy, Fairy Tale Forest, Girl, ForestOur culture has a slightly strange take on sharing our World View with new arrivals.  A rich mythic tradition is passed on to our children – Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, giants, goblins, elves and trolls appear in huge numbers of their storybooks and the bedtime tales we share with them.  Talking animals and fabulous beasts abound.  Then, as the children mature, these wonders are, one by one, consigned to a scrapheap of untruths.  Those stories, they are told, were ‘just pretend’.  Now they are expected to cast away such childish delights and focus on a world that can be seen, prodded and proved to be ‘real’. 

“So are dinosaurs real?” asks the confused child. “What about dragons?  What about Father Christmas…?  Why did you lie to me?”

Parents and carers struggle to justify their actions.  They are doing as their parents did.  They are rearing their young in the way our society dictates.  Once they reach the age of 7 or 8, even the child who knows she once saw fairies in the garden or glimpsed a fiery dragon from her window has put such things aside and conformed to the accepted and shared idea of how reality looks and feels.  Mostly.

Stonehenge, England, Uk, MonumentOf course there are still different perceptions within our common perceptual framework.  If we imagine a hypothetical twenty people standing and regarding Stonehenge in the 2020s, all would probably be in agreement as to the size and bulk of the stones, the green of the grass, the colour of the sky, strength of the wind and sound of the passing traffic on the A303.

One observer, though, might be hugely excited at the sight of a military aircraft flying over the scene – an aspect of the experience missed totally by others.

Another of the people might be high on a hallucinogenic drug or have what is currently called a ‘mental illness’.  That person might be seeing quite different colours strobing and wheeling around the stones and hearing sounds or voices the rest of the observers would not be aware of.

A third might be a synesthete.  He or she might be tasting or smelling the colours and textures in a manner quite alien to the rest.

Perhaps two or three members of the group might have psychic sensitivities which allowed them to see spots of bright light or hazy halos surrounding certain stones or perhaps glowing crystals buried deep beneath the ground.  They might even perceive shadowy figures from other times.

Winter, Snow, Landscape, Trees, SnowfallAs is the custom in our age, more or less all these visitors would take out their phones and photograph the scene before them.  If they then compared the results, all the images would show the grass, the stones, the path and so forth, yet some would include mysterious orbs or thin coloured arcs of light.  Depending on their personal World Views, these would be variously interpreted as aliens, angelic beings, reflections of light from mundane sources or pieces of dust on the camera lens.  Each, of course, would be entirely correct, according to their World View.

I would further suggest that if the group of 20 people were standing around Stonehenge in c2500BC, their perception of what lay before them would be markedly different to that of the 21st century visitors.  Their common take on ‘reality’ would link to their shared prior experience and social conditioning and their society almost certainly perceived the world around them in markedly different ways, with senses responding to stimuli in a manner that we could not grasp.

Clearly, I have no way of demonstrating this.  Those ancient people standing on a wind-blasted plain in southern England left us no written record or clues as to what was going through their minds and how their world looked to them.  They simply, for their own reasons, created a massive structure that survived into our age.

Fortunately for the curious among us, not all World Views are as poorly recorded.  Next time I’d like to take you to a culture that has been meticulously documented by its people, in a language we can read and understand.  In certain ways it is markedly similar to our own, but in others quite, quite incomprehensible.

Perceptive Reality – A Time-Traveller’s Guide

The restrictions of the past year have made it an ideal time for the armchair traveller – or time-traveller, often, in my own case – to indulge in flights of imagination and contemplation.

Stonehenge, Stone Circle, EnglandI will happily spend many hours watching documentaries or reading about archaeological discoveries and documents from other times and places and wishing I could see the temples and sacred places as they appeared in their zenith.  That alone, though, would be no more than mere sightseeing, which to my mind is a fairly empty and pointless activity.  How often I’ve stood and gazed on some great and ancient construction – Stonehenge, the temples of Malta, the Orcadian landscape around the Ness of Brodgar – and yearned for an understanding of the circumstances, the significance, the reason for their construction.

Yes, I can read the guide books, digest the various expert theories, wonder at the brilliance of the technologies that created them, but I lack the World View of those who built and used these structures.  So, of course, do the experts.  They can make educated guesses but might I be so bold as to suggest that in a time when religion is fragmented, science, business and technology are the closest many have to gods and upheaval is everywhere we look, 21st century people are not best placed to frame any possible mindset that could explain the concepts and ideologies behind the enduring wonders of the past as we gaze upon them?

The Roman Empire is an exception.  We have no problem understanding that.  It is so close in morality and intent to our own recent past that we can comprehend their purposes, intentions and ideals with very little difficulty.  Their buildings, military and societal organisations make perfect sense to us.  I will often flick through film and TV drama choices and note that the majority of people in our culture apparently find pleasure and entertainment in watching the murder, death and the anguish of others as much as Romans did in their amphitheatres.

Just as, according to the infinite monkey theorem, a monkey spending long enough at a typewriter keyboard could theoretically type the text of Hamlet, so an infinite number of World Views are bound to throw up some close matches.  That’s not to say we have any sort of continuum that leads logically and developmentally from Rome to here.  This has nothing to do with evolution.  World Views come and go, for reasons I hope to consider in subsequent posts.

(Let me just suggest in passing that any society which believes itself to be at the pinnacle of human development has enough pride to be heading inexorably towards a fall.)

I believe a World View is something more than Zeitgeist, too, although there are more parallels with this idea than with the evolutionary one.  I’m not denying the spirit of a particular generation as being easy to recognise in retrospect.  The 20th century alone threw up several of these.  For me a World View is something deeper, more pervasive and far longer-lasting than a decade or so’s trend.  Perhaps it is the spirit of a Great Age…

Peru, Sacsayhuaman, Sacred, Scenic, SiteThe societies who constructed the Great Pyramid, the Stonehenge and Avebury landscape, the polygonal-walled buildings of Peru or the structures of Göbeklitepe, for example, would have technologies, ideas and concepts of the world so radically different to our own that endless scrabbling in the dust to unearth pottery fragments or the contents of spoil heaps will give us little or no idea of their beliefs and intentions.

Each generation of antiquarians and archaeologists has a view on the purpose of the structures, that view arguably having more to do with contemporary interests and fixations than that which provoked the original constructions.  Thus an ancient site may have been variously viewed by later visitors as a geoglyph,  a landing site for spacecraft, a centre for human or animal sacrifice, a temple for religious worship, an astronomical calendar, a tomb (big favourite, regardless of whether or not there are human remains), a place of pilgrimage or for rites of passage.

So could I, as a time-traveller with many months or years at my disposal and a Babel Fish stuffed firmly in my ear, ever learn to understand the World View of the culture who created one of these enduring monuments?

Probably not.

I suspect that the only point at which our understanding would meet would be in the physical as I perceive it and that, of course, is not where their World View resides.  I might learn vast amounts about their technologies, their methods of construction and the way in which their societies are organised, but the all-consuming beliefs and reasons for constructing such structures would not, I fear, be apparent to me.  Our views of reality would differ so fundamentally that there would be little common ground.  It is very possible that the structures themselves would not reveal to my senses the experiences those who created them would have.  There could be sounds, sights, emotional and spiritual experiences freely available to them which to me would remain hidden.  I recall being quite convinced of this when standing in the chambers of the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni.  I could see the walls, the carvings and the colours but there was so much almost palpable unavailable experience there just beyond my ken.

Seth, through channel Jane Roberts, explains the reason for this, with his customary clarity and eloquence:

Your many civilisations, historically speaking, each with its own fields of activity, its own sciences, religions, politics and art – these all represent various ways that man has used imagination and reason to form a framework through which a more or less cohesive reality is experienced. 

And that is the nub of it.  Reality is perceptive, not as our scientists fondly believe, objective.  My own Guides put it rather more bluntly:

Reality is barely existent.  There is only thought.  

In future posts I hope to explore aspects of different World Views and their varying perception of ‘reality’, as it is a subject I find fascinating.

I the Beholder

A woman’s eye. Esperanto: Virina okulo. França...

Musing again this week – that’s partly free-flow thinking-at-a-keyboard and partly inspiration from the Muse – the wider consciousness that manages to squeeze into my awareness from time to time.

The Muse turns up in dreams sometimes: In the latest, scales were falling from my eyes in a slightly alarming manner; first a clear membrane slipped from each of them – rather like a contact lens.  Then another layer fell from one eye.  No pain, but now there was no iris there, no pupil, just blank and white.  That scared me enough to wake me up, but when I slept again, I was seeing people differently.  At first they looked normal and were most certainly alive, but as I changed my position and viewed them from different angles, I saw gaps in them.  There were uneven holes in the covering – skin, hair, clothes – and I could see the sky through them as they stood on a cliff top.  The bodies were merely husks – hollow and incomplete. Cast off, perhaps, like an empty chrysalis?

So, I decided, the Muse is pointing out that perception is not as straightforward as it may seem…  In fact, like beauty, it is very much in the eye of the beholder.

I had to look that word up: from Old English behalden/bihaldan/behaeldan (depending on the dictionary you choose) meaning be + hold/keep/cling to.  Plenty of truth in there; we ‘are’ in our day-to-day 3D existence very much defined by the ideas we cling to.  Those, in turn, are defined by our senses – with sight often the most trusted of these.

IMG_20150906_140940So I will look at a tree, for example, and see the gnarled trunk, the waving branches, the ripening apples, the goldening leaves.  That is the image of ‘tree’ I be-hold; it defines my ongoing perception of the tree.  If I use a camera, the image – despite losing a dimension – backs up my be-holding.  My camera was made by humans, to view as we view.

My Muse is prompting me, though, to widen my concept of perception.  How is this tree perceived by the small bird singing in its branches, by the beetle burrowing in the bark, by the ant or the clump of grass in the meadow below, or indeed by the tree itself?

To any of them, I’m guessing, my be-holding would mean nothing.  Those with eyes may see ultra-violet or infra-red aspects of the tree which are invisible to me.  Those with different – non-visual – means of perception would interpret it in ways I can’t even imagine.

Is there, for them, a place where tree stops and air, earth or self begins?

For us human BE-ings, the self is a useful repository for our concepts, memories, senses, feelings.  It can, though, be limiting.  What and where (and even ‘when’) are we when we move beyond that husk and be-hold something wider, deeper, wilder and greater, I muse?










atlantic city at night


There are many ways of looking at this game of Life we’re playing.  For the purposes of this post, I’m going to narrow them down to three.


The first way is what it’s proponents refer to as common sense.  In their world view there is cause and effect; time travels neatly from past to present and from there, they hope, into a yet-to-be-determined future.  The world can be classified neatly into living and non-living things, liquids, solids and gases.  Things move about in the space we see before us and as long as they don’t try to exceed the speed of light, all goes along just fine.  Humans interact with this cosy,  fairly predictable world via their senses until the day they die and stop being here.


Now let’s move to a very different, but still widely accepted view of life – the one where ‘quantum weirdness’ holds sway.  No wonder it bothered Einstein so deeply.  It’s all rather unsettling.


English: Diagram of Schrodinger's cat theory. ...


In the quantum world, we have notions such as entanglement – the idea that two objects can forge a link that transcends space, so that the behaviour of one affects the other no matter how far apart they might be.  Then there’s the peculiar ways in which particles can move in and out of existence.  Even the most diligent scientists seem unable to locate them in both time and space at once.  It’s almost as if they don’t truly belong in the common-sense world…


Before leaving our visit to this counter-intuitive universe, it may be worth mentioning the role of the observer – that’s you, me or the person in the lab coat who watches what is going on.  Everything, as I understand the theory, is possible.  There is a duality in which an electron is pure potential – it can be wave, particle, both or neither until it is observed or measured.  Then, the scientists tell us, the wave function collapses  – which means that the little subject of observation becomes one definite and observable object.


That gloriously anarchic world of pure potential is where we find the third way of viewing life, the universe and everything – the amazing world of A-Thought.


I discovered the term in one of my favourite books, The Crack in The Cosmic Egg: New Constructs in Mind and Reality by Joseph Chilton Pearce.  It’s not – as he freely admits – an ideal term, but Mr Pearce had considerable difficulty finding a description for this way of thinking which wasn’t riddled with negative connotations.  When I explain what A-Thinking is, you’ll see what I mean.


Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, al...


A-Thinking is the Fool card in the tarot.  It is the way a small child typically thinks – naive, random and with an unwavering belief in magic.  It is an unshakable conviction that anything is possible and that we and all things around us exist in a state of pure potential.  It is the complete antithesis of common sense.  A-Thinking is knowing that if something can be imagined, it can be.


Now I’ll tell you what the ‘A’ represents.  It is short for Autistic Thinking.


Just consider for a moment how society treats such an attitude in all but the very young.  I’d be hard-pressed to count the number of people I’ve known on the autistic spectrum who are patronised, laughed at, teased and criticised for the ideas they hold, for ‘wasting time’ on activities or interests mainstream society sees as unimportant or for refusing to respond to  ‘common sense’ conditioning or scientific parameters.


“Is there anything you don’t believe in?” I once asked my young Asperger’s friend.


“No,” he admitted, after thinking for a while. “It’s less complicated that way.”


Dissecting the Klein bottle results in Möbius ...


When he was about 14, that young man decided to build a time machine.  I was happy to go along with his ideas and allowed him to set up his prototype in my back garden.

Imagine a ring doughnut with sprinkles on top.  The technical name is a ring torus.  Now imagine cutting through it and somehow twisting it so that the sprinkles from one side now meet the underside next to them and it forms a whole like a 3D mobius strip (or are Mobius strips 3D already?  That was the paradox he was exploring.).  He was attempting to build this shape of indeterminate dimensions with a few discount store tarpaulins and huge quantities of duct tape.  I held the materials and followed instructions.  He became ever more excited at the prospect, despite the technical difficulties.  This little video shows roughly the concepts he was grappling with.  He had me just about believing that this was possible.  Then my decades of common sense conditioning kicked in and I became the rational scientist.


“Do you actually believe you can build an object that will enable you to travel in time?” I asked.


He looked at me then and – the wave function collapsed.  Up until that point, the potential had been infinite.  Suddenly he saw it through my eyes – a messy pile of plastic on the lawn.  The project was promptly abandoned and I felt wholly responsible.  What wonders might have taken place if I’d remained silent?


I’d believed the scientists.  Once we started to apply common sense – to observe and measure and rationalise, the magic vanished.


Now, though, I see things differently.  I no longer believe solely in the common-sense world, or even the quantum one.  I believe – as many spiritual leaders and channelled guides have been telling us – that everything IS pure potential, magic, imagination.  Didn’t Jesus say we needed to become like little children if we were to grasp what is really going on?


Maybe we, the observers, don’t collapse the wave function, it’s just that thinking as common-sense people, we can only observe ONE of the possibilities.  The rest are still there, patiently waiting for us to expand our perception.


The A-Thinkers are way ahead of the rest of us on this.  I hope to continue to learn from them – and share my discoveries with you.